Former agriculture minister and Mulanje South West parliamentarian, George Chaponda, is expected back to court in Zomba within 90 days but his defense lawyer has said his return is not related to corruption-related case regarding the Zambia maize purchase in 2016.
Chaponda was arrested in July 2017, five months after President Peter Mutharika fired him from Cabinet due to public pressure on his alleged role in maizegate
But in spite of over 11 months of battles in court, Zomba chief resident magistrate Paul Chiotcha acquitted Chaponda on May 18 2018, after quashing all evidence presented by the graft-busting body Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) in support of the counts, arguing they lacked elements of corruption.
ACB appealed his acquittal on three charges of giving false information, possession of foreign currency and attempting to obtain an advantage by instructing former Admarc chief executive officer Foster Mulumbe to offer a contract to Transglobe Produce Export Limited, but the State only appealed against the first two counts.
A letter of mention which Nyasa Times has seen, signed by the presiding judge Redson Kapindu on December 13 2019, all parties in the case are invited before the court in March, where a decision will be made on the direction of the case.
“Let all parties concerned attend mention before the Judge in chambers on the 12 day of March 2020 at 9 o’clock in the fore noon to hear the directions by the court on how this matter will further be dealt out with,” reads the notice which Supreme and High Courts Registrar Agnes Patemba confirmed to the press.
But in an interview with Nyasa Times, Chaponda’s lead defense lawyer, Tamando Chokhotho, said the former minister’s return to court was maize-gate unrelated.
“The ACB did not appeal on matters relating to the maize but rather on the charge of giving false information to the Bureau and possession of foreign currency,” Chokhotho told Nyasa Times.
Chokhotho also said as defense they were of the conviction that their return to court was not going to change anything.
“The Magistrate’s decision and findings were correct both on fact and law,” said Chokhotho.
Nyasa Times also understands that Chaponda’s implication was as a result of a “power struggle” within the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP).
At then, Chaponda had been vice president of the party for the southern region and was seen to be rising steadily in the echelons of the party’s presidency.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :